Wanna know the top 5 must-try meatless meals in Egypt? roll your sleeves and dive into this mouthwatering piece of content.
BONUS: No-fail and iconic vegan and vegetarian Egyptian recipes are included here in case you plan to recreate them in your kitchen.
I am delighted to collaborate with the seasoned writer and talented fellow blogger Tuve Floden to offer you this informative, as well as mouthwatering piece of content that could save your time on your next trip to Egypt, and guide you to the meatless, vegetarian, and vegan haven of Egyptian street food.
Make sure to check Tuve’s blog Other Things. His latest updates focus on six Middle Eastern cookbooks, a group of must-see monasteries just outside of Cairo, and a detailed study of ArabLit.org, an incredible site about Arabic literature in translation.
THE MOST ICONIC STREET FOOD IN EGYPT
By Tuve Floden
Middle Eastern street food — shawarma and falafel probably come to mind, but what do you know about street food in Egypt? I remember baked sweet potatoes, served hot off a hand-drawn cart as it wove through downtown Cairo. Or that incredible mango juice from a hole-in-the-wall juice joint near the main boulevard in Dokki. And, yes, I can’t forget the shawarma sandwiches that paired juicy meat with a tangy tahini sauce, and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
But for a deep look into meatless Egyptian street food in Egypt, I turned to an expert for ideas. Thank you to the amazing content creator and recipe developer Nermine Mansour for inspiring today’s post.
As an Egyptian-American, Nermine is a proud advocate for Egyptian cuisine, with a wealth of vegan and non vegan recipes on her website Chez Nermine and a cookbook project in the works. I love her stories, photos, and her recipes for Egyptian street food whisk me right back to my time in Cairo. Enjoy!
My memories of kushari will be forever linked to my first visit to Cairo, sitting down to eat at a small stand off Tahrir Square. Kushari is a unique blend of rice, lentils, chickpeas and macaroni noodles, topped with a little tomato sauce and crisp fried onions. As Nermine notes, the recipe can be a bit laborious and time consuming, but the result is delicious and wonderfully filling.
This dish has found its way around the world too, at restaurants like Dr. Koshary in Amman, Koshari Street in London, and Fava Pot in Washington DC. If you don’t make kushari yourself, look for it at Middle Eastern restaurants in your area.
In cool winter weather, there’s nothing like a hot soup to warm you from the inside. Halabesa is a vegan and hearty soup of chickpeas and tomatoes, spiced with ground cumin, fresh garlic, and lemon juice. In Egypt, vendors sell halabesa on the street, allowing people to drink it straight from a cup.
I cooked up a batch of this soup very easily. There are only a few ingredients and you don’t need much time. Note that Nermine’s halabesa recipe does recommend soaking dry chickpeas overnight. This tip was well worth it, giving a much fresher and heartier flavor than if I’d used canned beans.
Tamiyya (Egyptian Falafel)
Egyptian falafel, known as tamiyya, uses fava beans instead of chickpeas. Nermine’s recipe features an aromatic array of fresh herbs (cilantro, dill, parsley, mint) as well as ground coriander, cumin and paprika. Coating the falafel balls in sesame seeds before frying adds another crunch. The final result – simply delicious.
Like chickpea falafel, you can eat tamiyya by themselves or stuff them into a sandwich. I love them wedged into a small pita with a little lettuce, finely chopped tomatoes and a spoon of lemony tahini.
Another vegan dish with the illustrious fava bean is meatless foul medames, or stewed fava beans. In Egypt, foul vendors are instantly recognizable due to their tall clay pot, a narrow bell-like shape. They ladle this rich bean stew into a small bowl, then top it with your choice of onions, tomatoes, olive oil and tahini. Some people stir this all together, but I prefer to loosely scoop it up with pieces of fresh bread.
As Nermine says in her recipe, the variations are endless. Eat foul as a dip with pita, in sandwiches, or topped with an egg for a heartier meal.
These round breads covered in sesame seeds are a staple of street food in Egypt and other parts of the region. Vendors in cities like Cairo, Amman and Istanbul push around carts packed high with simit, selling these loaves and making sandwiches.
Eat simit with hot tea or cut the bread open, putting in hard-boiled eggs, tomato and cheese, with a dash of salt and pepper. I made Nermine’s simit recipe and the smells from the oven were spectacular. The fresh loaves didn’t last long either.
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